Korea

 

Is the USA the defender of life and liberty in Korea? The straightforward answer is decisively, no! It is an imperialist presence, maintaining large aggressive force in the South and conducting belligerent military operations that can only be interpreted as threatening in the North.

The fate of regimes in Iraq and Libya that the USA have taken against offer dire examples of what can happen due to a disproportionate balance of forces. Whatever the iniquities of those now former regimes, the resulting protracted chaos following their removal serve as warnings.

So it is hardly surprising that the government of a country brought into the cross-hairs of US attention should adopt heightened measures of self-defence. However, while Saddam Hussain did not have weapons of mass destruction, Kim Jong Un most certainly does.

The sight of missiles on transporters amidst massed ranks of goose stepping troops parading through the streets of the capital is disturbing. It is suggestive that if there is socialism in the DPRK then it is National Socialism.

It is surely incumbent on those professing to be the vanguard leadership of the proletariat that they do not use the working class, their own country’s or those elsewhere, as political bargaining chips.

Nuclear weapons cannot be used to defend a way of life. To think otherwise is to be subject to a delusional oxymoron. It is incumbent on Marxists, Communists and Socialists to agitate and work for the destruction of such weapons, not be advocates for weapons of catastrophic destruction.

That this creates a dilemma for those subjected to US threats then this has to be faced. At the very least, if such a leadership has responded by developing its own nuclear weapons, surely it should be seeking as loudly as possible to trade them for co-existence at least, if outright peace cannot be achieved.

Bellicose threats and defiant displays invite only greater offensive reaction. Any misjudgement in such precariously attuned circumstances brings disaster down on the people, whose subsequent mass slaughter would be a tragic affirmation that they are powerless, the very antithesis of socialism.

It is for parties, groups, individuals who claim to be Marxists to shed any delusions about the supposed progressive nature of any nation, itself an anti-Marxist concept, which vehemently promotes nuclear weapons as the salvation of the people.

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Flash View 4: Accusing Syria

 

BBC Radio 4’s “Today” (Tuesday, 27th June) carried a statement by a US spokesman claiming the Syrian government was preparing a chemical attack on civilians.

The spokesman went on to make other unsubstantiated accusations including that the Assad government was responsible for creating ISIS.

The US knows about chemical attacks. Four decades after its defeat in Vietnam there are still many suffering the effects of Agent Orange. It also knows that ISIS is descended from their creature, the Mujahidin, and developed through the chaos of US, and British, action in Iraq.

Who would actually benefit from such a chemical outrage?

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Flash View 3: Mind the Generation Gap

 

It was votes of the young, naively optimistic/self-interested (abolition of tuition fees), or the old, cynical/self-interested baby boomers, who betrayed the nation. Or at least, that seems to be the underlying theme of election commentators.

What is wrong with self-interest? If the working class of any age was more self-interested it wouldn’t continue to put up with the fundamental cause of its problems, capitalism.

The young, the old and all in-between have a common self-interest in creating a society that meets the needs of them all, not just the profit of the very few.

 

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May Election in June

 

When the prime minister called this election the prospect of a Labour victory appeared fanciful. There were seemingly foolhardy protestations that the yawning gulf measured by opinion pollsters might be reduced, but surely not significantly so?

Theresa May has shown herself to be incompetent as a politician, choosing to present her cult of a personality that is both insipid and dour. Worse, for her, a reputation for strength and decisiveness has been tarnished by a campaign of indecision and vacillation.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has displayed vigour and resolution, promoting, through Labour’s manifesto, an alternative increasing numbers of the electorate find appealing.

The terrorist outrages have starkly demonstrated the baleful consequences of Tory austerity; it leaves people vulnerable. The loss of 20,000 police officers, and a similar number of community support officers, has reflected badly on the former Home Secretary.

If the Tories do lose the election there will be the irony that law and order is an important contributory factor.

But, will the Tories lose?

The majority of voters are workers whose interests should be contrary to the Conservatives’. However, there is a Trojan paralysing working class programmes called Brexit.

Just a year ago a slim majority voted to leave the EU. There was good reason to do so from a working class perspective. The EU is undoubtedly constituting itself as a pan-European super-state to serve the imperialistic aims of its capitalist class.

Voting to leave, though, merely launches the working class into the orbits of other imperialist blocs, most likely a transatlantic one centred on the USA. Whichever way the working class voted in the referendum, capitalism was the victor.

It is the custom to refer to a capitalist class, but this can convey an impression that capitalism is homogeneous. Most definitely this is not the case. It is a barely tempered chaos of competition, and it was competing capitalist elements that used the referendum in pursuit of partisan ends.

The anti-EU faction successfully fascinated enough of the electorate through the illusion of sovereignty. It is illusory because the restrictions and demands of the EU are to be exchanged for restriction and demands of arrangements, deals, with other capitalist blocs.

Since the turn of the twentieth century, and before, capitalism has been a worldwide system in which vestiges of national sovereignty are allowed for as long as they don’t contradict capitalist imperatives.

The Brexit vote serves as an ideological restraint, encouraging nationalist, too often xenophobic, thinking, that continues to serve capitalist purposes as a prophylactic against class consciousness and the internationalism that entails.

Many who might otherwise vote Labour on 8th June might vote for May the Brexiteer, despite her having been a tepid remainer.  She could well harness votes that would usually be denied the Tories because of the vague perception that she’ll negotiate some ill-defined “good deal for Britain”.

In this digital era the purpose of Trojans is to paralyse, even destroy, programmes. Brexit, for or against, might well serve to do precisely that to the Labour programme.

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Manchester Triptych

 

!

Floret of flame, echo of the big bang,

Flinging innocent creation apart,

Flaying thin skin from an orderly world,

Punching and pummelling breaking bodies,

Undoing flesh with nuts and bolts and screws,

Undoing families in a moment,

Undoing this cause through its own effect,

Discounting the life which this is the sum,

Discounting lives summarily totalled,

Immaculate lives blown out in a flash.

?

Who the bomber? One dressed in his best vest,

High on the opiates of his people?

Or higher, two miles high, super sonic

And scratching the sky so close to the void?

Or miles out to sea, maybe, on a cruise?

Or cruising through cyber space and zapping

Pixilated people deaf to the drone?

And who the victims? Outlines coloured in

With bold strokes broad enough to blur edges,

Such simplified figures, which children count?

$ + £…

Words are not cheap, they do cost lives, spoken

With redacted care to prick sentiments

With forked tongues, justifying calls to arms

For the hundred years and more war, all one

Global war over branding, re-branding,

Bottom lines, arrayed on banners, dressed up

In various uniforms, or civvies,

Obscured by common words, such as Great War,

Second World, Cold and Hot, Insurgency.

And then, on the home front, comes a flash point.

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Flash View 2: Assassination by Insinuation

 

During Radio 4’s Today programme’s (Saturday, 20th May) newspaper review, an item was highlighted that the intelligence services had, at one point, opened a file on Jeremy Corbyn due to suspicions he was supportive of the IRA.

The Labour manifesto was beginning to gain traction, while the Tory’s had met hostility. Better to switch from competing ideas and policies to personalities and character assassination.

A story in a ‘paper has limited impact, but reported by a national broadcaster significantly magnifies its effect.

Corbyn’s subsequent statement condemning all bombing is also now being interpreted, through compliant media, as being pro-IRA.

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Personality Culture

 

There are two Jeremy Corbyns. There is the strawman version, stuffed by the media and set up for pelting; then there’s the real one. Since being elected to the leadership of the Labour Party the latter has had to endure being eclipsed by the former.

This is no fault of Corbyn himself. His performances at the Dispatch Box and in interviews have been measured and reasonable. However, that image, no matter its veracity, is of no interest to the media.

Assisted in no small measure by self-seeking and disloyal Labour MPs, the media have constantly paraded the strawman in public, inculcating an impression of flaccidity and hollowness. And in a news-glance society it’s that impression that’s been influential.

Come the announcement of the snap general election it is hardly surprising that Labour lags in the polls as no opposition to seven years of coalition and Tory administration should. The failure to garner increased support must surely be the fault of the leader?

Absolutely it is, just not the present one. No matter Tony Blair won a large majority in 1997, it was his enthusiastic pursuit of essentially Thatcherite free market economics and the mendacity around the Iraq war that seriously drained the Labour pool.

Membership fell faster than voting numbers, a trend not altered by Gordon Brown or Ed. Miliband, both leaders who also lost elections. Whatever else, Corbyn has brought huge numbers into the party, especially the young who are all too often alienated by politics.

Seemingly, the media were quick to spot the danger of enthusiasm to politics as usual in which the requirements of finance capital are predominant no matter which party is nominally in power. The irony is, Corbyn is no revolutionary, being a mainstream social democrat.

It is a measure of how deeply reactionary ideology has penetrated society that the moderate reforms proposed by Corbyn can be portrayed, and widely accepted as being “hard left”, a phrase useful to the media due to being meaningless.

Elections, local and national, are essentially passive affairs. Voters are effectively political consumers invited to choose from the shelf of pre-packaged products. They play no part in formulating policy or determining candidates. Just put the cross in the box and then keep quiet.

Hardly surprising that there’s widespread disengagement with politics beyond a cursory consideration of the limited offerings. In a culture in which celebratory figures hugely it is relatively easy for the media to reduce politics to personalities the media is instrumental in creating.

So, the Tory “battle bus” tours the country emblazoned with the prime minister’s name in huge letters along it flanks, with a diminutive “Conservatives” as an after-thought on the door. To his credit, Corbyn has eschewed this in favour of trying to actually argue his case in public.

“And always keep a hold of nurse

For fear of finding something worse.”

This couplet from “Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion” by Hilaire Belloc sums up the Tory campaign. Nurse May will keep us all safe from that wild, hard left lion lurking at the head of the Labour Party.

But, beware the nasty, down right toxic, medicine she will administer should we actually keep hold of her.

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